Alfred Stanistreet Jee (1816-1858)

Alfred Stanistreet Jee was a civil engineer involved with the construction of the Huddersfield & Sheffield Junction Railway and the Huddersfield & Manchester Railway.


He was born on 2 August 1816 in Liverpool, the son of Matthew Jee and his wife Elizabeth (née Stanistreet), and baptised on 22 December 1817 at St. George, Liverpool.

He married Elizabeth Ann Robinson on 20 May 1841 in Lancashire. The couple had six known children:

  • Elizabeth Alice Jee (1842-?)[1]
  • Marion Jee (c.1845-1897)
  • Edward Alfred Jee (c.1846-1915)[2]
  • Madeline Jee (c.1848-1933)
  • Herbert Audley Jee (1853-?)[3]
  • Alfred Morland Jee (1858-1932)[4]

As a civil engineer, he was linked to the construction (or proposed construction) of the following railway lines:

Alfred Stanistreet Jee was killed in a railway accident whilst working on the Santander Railway in Spain on 30 August 1858. His younger brother, Morland Jee, died from his injuries ten days later.

At the time of his death, Elizabeth Ann was pregnant and (perhaps prematurely) gave birth to a son on 2 September.


Transcribed from Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers (1859):

MR. ALFRED STANISTREET JEE, son of Mr. Matthew Jee, merchant, Liverpool, was born on the 2nd August, 1816; he was educated principally at the Royal Institution, in that town, where he particularly distinguished himself in mathematics, obtaining the prize of his year, and afterwards continuing his studies under Dr. Tattershall, of Liverpool, of whom he was a favourite pupil.

In very early life he evinced a decided tendency for engineering pursuits, his favourite amusement being the construction, with his own hands, of model engines and machines; a practice which he continued, in his leisure hours, to the time of his death. His father's residence at Edge-Hill, in the immediate neighbourhood of the tunnels on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, naturally drew the attention of a youth so disposed to these works, then being vigorously carried on, and, combined with his taste for mathematics, ultimately led to his choice of engineering as a profession.

In 1831, he became the pupil of Mr. Joseph Locke, M.P., and in a short time he was intrusted with important works on the Grand Junction Railway, including a bridge over the river Mersey. This was immediately succeeded (after his pupilage had expired), in 1838, by his appointment, under Mr. Locke, as resident engineer on the Lancaster and Preston Junction Railway, where he had the entire charge, and management of the works, which were finished in 1840: thus enabling him to acquire, at the unusually early age of twenty-four years, an amount of experience, which gave, through life, accuracy of judgment and confidence in his own practice in more important undertakings.

From the Lancaster and Preston Railway, he was removed to the Sheffield and Manchester line, and during the execution of the works, he was appointed engineer of the Huddersfield and Manchester, Huddersfield and Sheffield, and several other lines in that district. On the Sheffield and Manchester Railway, he constructed the Dinting and Etherow viaducts, and the Tunnel at Woodhead: this latter work, which was one of the longest and most difficult in England — its length being upwards of three miles — was opened in 1845.

Mr. Jee's connection with the Sheffield and Manchester Railway continued up to the close of his career; and as a mark of the high esteem and respect entertained for his character by the Directors, the following resolution was, after his death, transmitted to Mrs. Jee, by the Chairman:—

At a Meeting of the Board, of Directors of this Company, recently held at Manchester, resolutions were unanimously passed, expressing their heartfelt sympathy with Mrs. Jee on the bereavement she has sustained, by the death of her late lamented husband, Mr. A.S. Jee, C.E., who was for many years Engineer of this Company ; and, as such, was intrusted with the execution of some of the most difficult works in the kingdom, which he successfully accomplished; and recording the high opinion they had always entertained of the distinguished ability, integrity, and zeal which characterized Mr. Jee’s professional career.

In 1851, Mr. Jee was applied to for professional advice, relative to a railway in Spain, intended to connect the port of Santander with the canal of Castile; and after assisting in completing the arrangements with the Government, in Madrid, he resided chiefly, for several years, at Santander, actively occupied in laying out, the line through a very difficult country, and in preparing the details and designs for the works of the line, and for the rolling stock.

The readiness with which he acquired the idiom of a foreign language, and the technical terms necessary for t,he elaborate specifications required by the Government engineers, gave him great facility in his intercourse with the Spanish officials, and he had the satisfaction of seeing the portion if the line from Alardel-Rey to Reynosa, a distance of thirty-five miles, successfully opened in March, 1857.

His skill in design, the accuracy .and completeness of the details, and his thorough practical experience, were strongly evinced on this railway, where every work was minutely tested by the Spanish Government engineers; and the result was, the establishment of a high reputation amongst the Spaniards, not only for his skill, as an engineer, but for the strictest probity and honesty of purpose, in all his transactions.

The fatal accident which deprived him of life, was caused on the 30th August, 1858, by the sinking of an embankment, and the consequent overturning of the engine, which he was driving, on the occasion of a private opening of the second portion of the line. His death was instantaneous, and it was followed, ten days afterwards, by that of his younger brother, Mr. Morland Jee, who for many years had been his pupil and assistant.

The mortal remains of Mr. Jee were brought to England for interment, and were accompanied to the vessel, appointed to convey them, by the Directors and officials of the railway and the numerous friends he had made in Santander, amidst a universal feeling of regret and sorrow that so valuable a man should have been taken from among them. The Santander Journal thus announced the mournful ceremony:—

(Translation from the Santader Newspaper of the 8th September, 1858.)

Yesterday, the mortal remains of Alfred Jee, Esq., the lamented Engineer of our railway, were embarked on board the steamer Viscaiano Montanes, to be taken to Bilboa, and there removed to the steamer Rita, which is going to Liverpool, where they will be received by his disconsolate family, who by means of the telegraph requested they should be sent. The removal from Cajo, as well as the embarcation on the Muelle de Maliano, made a mournful appearance, which called forth strongly the sympathy of the crowd of sorrowing spectators, who, notwithstanding the untimely hour, had gathered to witness the sad ceremony.
At seven o’clock in the morning the coffin was removed from Cajo, covered with the English flag, and placed on a waggon, which was impelled softly and silent,ly over the railway, by a number of workmen employed on the line. They stopped in front of the station, where, awaiting the corpse, were all the directors of the railway, several Engineers, and other well-known Spanish subjects, the English Consul, and many officials of that nation, all in deep mourning.
After a short delay, the remains of the lamented gentleman were decorously removed to a boat, which had to he towed by another, both properly prepared, and the numerous accompaniment entered five elegant large boats, which had been placed there for this purpose. Thus arranged, the mournful procession began its slow and majestic march over the magnificent bay, with the tide almost at its full height, and slightly illuminated by the feeble rays of a sun, half hid amongst piles of semi-transparent clouds. In this manner, in profound silence, and with grief painted on the countenances of all those who composed the mourners, they were rowed parallel with the old Muelle, until near the steamer, which was anchored at the other extreme. They remained uncovered, and when the coffin had been placed on board, they turned round, and with the mute eloquence of grief, bid adieu for ever to the remains of the talented Engineer ; the true friend and the honourable man, who leaves in this foreign land a grateful and imperishable memory of his talents and virtues, and a sad remembrance of his unfortunate end.
If to his relatives, and those at a distance, it is any alleviation to know the interest and deep feeling which has been shown in Santander, we can announce to them that it has been general, and that the melancholy act of the last farewell has been celebrated with all merited respect and with every possible honour.

The Directors of the Santander Railway addressed to Mrs. Jee a memorial of their appreciation of his talents as an Engineer and of his many virtues, and their deep sympathy in her sorrow.

Thus, at the early age of forty-two years, in the very prime of life, and whilst actively occupied in the duties of his profession, Mr. Alfred Jee closed his useful and honourable career, leaving behind him a name and reputation of which his children may justly be proud : he was gradually assuming a prominent position in his profession, in which his straightforward conduct, amiable disposition, and quiet, unobtrusive manner, had gained for him much respect, and causes his loss to be deeply felt and lamented.

He joined the Institution as a Member in the year 1844, was a frequent attendant at the meetings, contributed papers to the Transactions, and never lost an opportunity of aiding the objects of the Society, amongst the members of which he enjoyed a high and well-deserved reputation.

Notes and References

  1. Born 8 May 1842.
  2. Died aged 69 in September 1915.
  3. Born 28 August 1853 and baptised 9 December 1853 at St. John, Lancaster.
  4. Born 2 September 1858 and baptised 1 March 1859 at St. John, Lancaster.